The Key to Our Collective Success
JFE Shoji Power Canada (JFE) and German automated equipment manufacturer Heinrich Georg GmbH (GEORG) team up to expand the capacity for electrical steel component production in Canada.
In recent weeks, I’ve written about the importance of deep collaboration between individuals and companies to achieve our clean energy targets. Without collaborative partnerships with equipment manufacturers such as GEORG in Kreuztal, Germany, we wouldn’t be able to realize our full potential and fulfill our mission.
GEORG, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, has been at the heart of developing and improving highly specialized machinery for the production of power cores. Electrical transformer cores are manufactured from thin-gauge, grain-oriented electrical steel and are critical components of residential distribution transformers and large power transformers used to transform high-voltage electricity.
In just this year alone, GEORG and JFE will work together to commission and install three advanced core cutting lines for power and distribution transformer markets in Canada. These large power cores, which can weigh up to 200 Mt with core widths up to 1 metre, are precision cut and stacked with thousands of laminations of core steel. They require a highly intricate manufacturing process with tolerances measured in fractions of millimetres. It is these specialized processes that both JFE and GEORG excel at.
JFE’s relationship with GEORG spans decades. They’ve been supplying JFE with a wide range of equipment including slitting lines, core cutting lines and cut-to-length systems for thin-gauge steel processing for many years. Over the past five years, our relationship with GEORG has become even more strategic. When JFE Steel Corporation acquired our Canadian business in 2019, we visited the GEORG office in Germany to establish our two strategic initiatives while forming a basic framework to work within and setting a general timeframe for the work to be completed:
- The first initiative was to renew and expand on under-invested production processes for power transformer parts.
- The second initiative was to significantly increase the level of automation and process control in our production workflow.
“JFE Shoji has been a reliable, forward-looking strategic partner for GEORG for many years. The good cooperation worldwide is based on mutual trust and a value-based corporate culture. The extensive work we are doing for JFE Shoji in Canada in 2023 on transformer core cutting, and the decision in favour of a GEORG slitting line in its Japanese plant in Mizushima, fills us with pride.”Bernd Peter Schmidt, Managing Director BU Transformer Lines & Member of the Board, GEORG
I believe that the most important elements of collaboration between companies are a common vision, shared values and the mutual respect to work through difficult—and sometimes impossible—challenges. This partnership has shown that the JFE and GEORG teams have created a great foundation for deep collaboration. In supplier-client relationships, the pursuit of a win-win relationship is always challenged with pricing negotiations, technical challenges, unforeseen problems and the stretch for more creative solutions. Together, we have been able to overcome these challenges, finding new solutions that benefit both companies as well as the courage to assert our own views while showing an openness to listen to our partner.
There has been no shortage of challenges to overcome since our initial meeting. The pandemic made early conversations about needs, timing and technical specifications more difficult. Complex discussions were made arduous as we adapted to communicating through electronic means rather than face to face. Material and parts costs rapidly increased and equipment orders valued in the tens of millions of dollars had their lead times pushed out due to delays in drive components and shortages of electronic chips. These delays affected our clients’ plans and commitments, forcing us to stretch our internal capabilities. Through all these challenges, often in states of pandemic frustration and heightened emotions, we found solutions with a collaborative spirit, often with the GEORG team leading the way.
The strategic relationship between JFE and GEORG has allowed us to explore new ways of expanding production, improving processes and reliability, increasing levels of equipment safety and automation and finding efficiencies for production and cost. We are developing plans for further investments and working together in pursuit of our common missions.
Together, we are highly committed to finding the best solutions for our OEM clients and providing our industry with the ability to increase the level of efficient, clean energy in our communities. Both companies have a shared commitment to improving efficiency and automation so that our production teams can have fewer physical demands and increase their level of job fulfillment through higher-skilled workflows.It is our great privilege to work as strategic partners with the GEORG team. We believe this collaboration will continue to lead our industry forward.
Thank you for listening.
President/CEO | JFE Shoji Power Canada Inc.